GAITHO: Let’s drop the antiquated ‘our people’ in anti-corruption war - Daily Nation

Let’s drop the antiquated ‘our people’ in anti-corruption war

Monday September 3 2018

Homa Bay County, corruption

Five former and current Homa Bay County Assembly officials in court on August 17, 2018 where they were charged with stealing Sh27.8 million. PHOTO | BARACK ODUOR | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

More by this Author

Kenya is at war. The enemy against whom we must unite as one to stand any chance of survival is not some hostile state breaching our borders. Neither is it some crazed terrorists drawing us into some alien cause.

We face a much more insidious, much more dangerous foe. It is an enemy that resides deep within us, a malevolent cancer that courses through our veins and takes over our blood, flesh and bones. And eventually owns our hearts and our minds.

That enemy within is called corruption. Success in the war against corruption will depend on a united effort, all Kenyans pulling together in a concerted effort against a malignant foe that we must defeat or perish.

It is not a war for the faint-hearted or traitorous souls of mixed loyalties. Neither is it for those conflicted and unsure and, hence, likely to be derailed into diversionary causes around personalities, tribe and partisan politics.


President Uhuru Kenyatta’s war against corruption, revived after years of aborted starts, has drawn the wide public support it needs but, for every two steps forward, it has been one backwards.

How so? Many see it through blinkered lenses. We cheer when those nabbed are ‘strangers’ in our sad ethnopolitical formations but cry foul when those we presume share our tongue and/or political inclination are. This becomes clear from how different formations have reacted to high-profile arrests.

Almost from the word go, supporters of Deputy President William Ruto went into that antediluvian ‘our people are being finished’ mode. They incited redundant, and very dangerous, ethnic undertones and introduced base politics that split their own ‘ruling’ Jubilee party down the middle.


Some characters on the public payroll to support, advance and implement the government agenda started sabotaging the campaign.

They resorted to base propaganda targeting those driving the campaign and sought to muddy the waters by accusing everyone else of also being corrupt.

But it’s not only the Jubilee mobs who displayed such tendencies. Last week, we saw a battalion of opposition politicians, civil society and human rights activists from the legal fraternity clog a courtroom on record representing Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu.


The show of solidarity when the DCJ was arraigned on corruption charges was, indeed, impressive — one hardly seen since the heady days when brave activists dared confront the despotic one-party Kanu regime.

The undoubted political message also sent disturbing signals. Would the group have turned out in equal numbers if, rather than Justice Mwilu, it was, for instance, her Supreme Court colleague Justice Njoki Ndung’u in the dock? Was this show about protecting the Judiciary from incessant efforts by the Jubilee regime to undermine, punish and ultimately control an independent arm of government or siding with a judicial officer of similar persuasion?

The latter is the message sent out, which serves only to undermine Justice Mwilu’s standing.


There is cause for justifiable alarm that the unprecedented arrest and prosecution of a Supreme Court judge on corruption charges represents activation of President Kenyatta’s outrageous threat to ‘revisit’ the matter following the historic nullification of his presidential election victory last year, forcing a repeat poll.

The intemperate threats against the Supreme Court represented an alarming low in relations between the Executive and Judiciary.

Instead of blaming his incompetent and arrogant counsel, who mistakenly assumed State power must triumph, the President turned his ire on the judges.

It is, therefore, natural that the action against Justice Mwilu, even if based on real solid detective work, is seen against the ‘we shall revisit’ background.

That natural defence, however, would best be offered in a sober strategy that does not undermine itself by inadvertently making a connection between the judge and the consortium that fought the election petition whose outcome left President Kenyatta flailing wildly.


There was a period in our recent history when safety in numbers was essential in confronting a dictatorial regime but that era is long past.

No one, and especially those who say they support the corruption war, should excite political and ethnic counter-attacks when any of their favourites is netted.

Neither should they resort to shooting the messenger, as in the unwarranted attacks we are seeing against newspapers that break news of impending arrests.

They should actually hail the media for taking the frontline in the graft war.

Of course, all media getting tips must go the extra mile to guard against being used, to ensure that they are getting and using that information in the public interest, not as pawns in some political wars.

[email protected] Twitter: @MachariaGaitho